Ben Russell and the Spirit that Delivers Us

From Ben Russell's Kickstarter page for 'He Who Eats Children'

From Ben Russell’s Kickstarter page for ‘He Who Eats Children’

Editor’s note: Fandor has initiated an innovative collaborative project with a group of five FIX filmmakers to create original films under the ‘FIXshorts’ banner. From over thirty submitted script-and-budget proposals, Fandor chose five diverse and dynamic short film projects to help develop from start (funding) to finish (distribution and promotion). Today marks the fourth of five FIXshorts filmmaker Q&As, which, we imagine might provoke even more questions than answers—as we hope you’ll explore their work further on their Kickstarter campaign pages.

Ben Russell is at work on He Who Eats Children, described as “a speculative portrait of a Dutchman living in the Surinamese jungle fixing canoe motors, accused of eating the locals’ children.” Russell gamely composed the answers to our questions while on a motor-canoe headed downstream on the Upper Suriname River. “The mist is slowly rising on the jungle canopy, white herons are skirting across the river’s surface…”

Keyframe: Where are you from?

Ben Russell: I’m definitely from the U.S.A., but it’s hard to claim anything beyond that.  I was born in Springfield, MA but never lived there; I grew up in Colorado and Southern California; I have since lived in Providence, Sydney, Suriname, Chicago, Paris and now Los Angeles.  I feel most connected to where I live now—but none of my family is there…

Keyframe: What inspired you to make this​ FIXshorts film?

Russell: My own experience of placelessness coupled with the apparent impossibility of ever fully being part of a culture that you’re not born into. Which is to say: living in a tiny jungle village for years is tough enough, but living there as the only white-skinned foreigner most people have ever known throws life into radical disarray.  The subject of my film is a stand-in for myself, obviously….


‘A Spell to Ward off the Darkness’

Keyframe: What’s your favorite piece of filmmaking equipment (and why)?

Russell: The Aaton XTR Super 16mm camera I bought while working in my last feature—it’s a marvelous object, and it makes my personal commitment to shooting on film as-long-as-it-lasts a much easier thing to uphold.

Keyframe: What’s your favorite short film (or filmmaker)?

Russell: The Visitation by Nathaniel Dorsky—a silent, 16mm film of totally transcendent beauty.  Light is the subject, film is the spirit that delivers us.

Keyframe: Which do you prefer: e-books or print?

Russell: Print!  I’ve honestly never read an e-book and can’t imagine trading the glorious materiality of the printed page for the convenience of yet another screen…

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